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Simple Tips for a Family Centered Newborn Photo Shoot

Updated: Mar 22

Getting a simple family photo after the arrival of your newborn can seem like a daunting task when you're dealing with little sleep, reluctant older siblings, or a house that has fallen into clutter. Here are some simple tips for your family centered newborn photo shoot that will make it easy to get those coveted photos.

Family in bed with newborn baby and toddler upside down

Preparing Your Newborn

Prepare your newborn by keeping rooms warm and feeding your baby right before the shoot. Plan your newborns outfits ahead of time and make sure they are well fitting for the size they are at the time of the shoot. Oversized outfits will drown out your newborn and look sloppy in photos. Beige, grey, white and pastels are all great neutral colors that can co-ordinate well with other family members . I would plan no more than two "looks" for the shoot (eg. swaddled baby + outfit) -- newborns get fussy with changing. One outfit should expose their hands and feet in order to capture those sweet little baby parts. Headbands, hats and swaddling blankets are all adorable and bring photos to life. Make sure everything is ready and on hand for the shoot.

Getting your home prepared

"Staging your home" for your newborn photo shoot can feel overwhelming, but here's the thing -- your home doesn't have to be perfect. Most newborn photoshoots happen in only a few rooms of your home with beautiful light -- the master bedroom, baby's room and family room are all popular choices. Focus on tidying only where it matters for the photo shoot and forget about the rest. Keep in mind that some clutter is an authentic part of family life and enrich your photographs, but put away anything that doesn't add to your personal story like breast pumps or food wrappers. When I first arrive I always check rooms out and move things around if needed.

gay couple looking at newborn baby with their dog

What to Wear -- Start with Mom

Choosing what to wear sets the stage for your session. When thinking about the family's clothes for the shoot, always start with mom first. Trust me on this one. Newborns, kids and Dads have so many simple choices that work well in photos, but Moms have just gone through a body transformation and need to feel beautiful and comfortable in what they are wearing. It's hard to get relaxed, candid photos if you are fussing with bra straps or awkwardly posing in uncomfortable clothing. Jeans with tops that come in slightly at the waist are more flattering than baggy, oversized tops that can add bulk. Long flowing dresses are great choices because they photograph well and are comfortable to wear. A simple style like The Nap Dress from Hill House Home is popular because it's universally flattering and is easy to work with if you need to take a nursing break during the shoot ( Amazon has some great, similar, lower priced versions of this dress too. If you don't have anything you feel great about in your closet, consider renting something beautiful that doesn't require an expensive, long term commitment. Some popular rental sites are Nuuly, Rent the Runway and Armoire (here's a link for a $20 off coupon at Nuuly if you'd like to check them out ( ).

Door opening to room with mom and dad looking at newborn

When planning the kids' outfits, think comfort first and choose something they can easily move in. Comfortable, happy kids lead to better photos and better candid moments. Clips and ponytails are great ways to keep hair off toddler's faces, so that candid photos aren't spoiled by hair mishaps.

Mom and dad holding newborn and toddler girl touching baby

Dads are the easiest to plan for and look great in jeans and a sweater, t-shirt or golf shirt. As for footwear, I love bare feet because it most honestly captures family life at home.

Preparing Older Siblings for the Session

If there are older siblings that are going to be included in the session, helping them prepare for the shoot ahead of time is really critical. Choosing a time of day for your photography session that's going to work with a toddler's schedule helps. Morning sessions tend to be best for both newborns and young toddlers but you know your family's moods best. Have some easy snacks and favorite toys/books readily available so if a young sibling needs a break, your "go to" items are within easy reach. Don't worry if things seem like they are going off the rails. Young children need breaks and some of the sweetest candid moments happen during a little cuddle time, reading or playing with an older sibling while they recharge their batteries. It's also really helpful to put aside one small, mess free treat that we can use to coax a reluctant sibling into an image by playing "find the treat" that's hidden in a newborns crib.

Dad playing with little girl while mom watches in chair with her newborn baby

Plan for a longer photo session, then relax and go with the flow. 

Family life is unpredictable and newborns can take it to a whole new level. Plan to put aside 90 minutes for your newborn session to allow for that flexibility if you need to feed your new baby, or your toddler is having a meltdown. It happens. Don't worry if things don't go as planned. Sometimes the most amazing, candid, real life moments happen just when it seems like things are falling apart. Go with the flow and trust that we're getting beautiful photos in the chaos of family life. With good planning and the luxury of time, we can pause, pivot and make it all work.

Mom and dad with newborn in front of window


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